After 5 years collectively, Justin Dedich hadn’t given a lot consideration to the truth that someday two staples of USC’s offensive line can be gone. After all of the video games enjoying alongside Brett Neilon and Andrew Vorhees, all of the practices and conferences and random outings spent collectively, it at all times felt as if he’d have yet another.
However Neilon, the Trojans longtime middle, was carted off the sector with an damage within the Pac-12 title recreation, and Vorhees, having battled nagging accidents all season, bowed out of the bowl to organize for the NFL draft. Out of the blue, there was no final hurrah and Dedich was enjoying middle forward of the Cotton Bowl, and Jonah Monheim had kicked inside to protect. An period had ended with out warning.
“This is it,” Dedich mentioned with a sigh. “It’s a harsh reality you gotta face. I’m glad we have a new group, and we’re playing well together, but those are my brothers. It makes me sad. It does.”
How harsh that actuality winds up for USC relies upon largely on Dedich, who’s prone to return for a sixth season because the anchor and chief of the Trojans’ offensive line. He and Monheim can be the one returning full-time starters on the road subsequent yr, making main change inevitable.
These modifications have been underway for weeks now. “It’s a brand new shuffle,” Dedich mentioned.
With Dedich shifting to middle and Monheim to proper guard, it’s nonetheless unclear how the opposite items will match for USC. Gino Quinones began a recreation at guard earlier this season and was anticipated to fit in at left guard in opposition to Tulane, and redshirt freshman Mason Murphy will play one of many deal with spots.
Redshirt senior Bobby Haskins has been the Trojans’ beginning left deal with for many of the season, after beating out Courtland Ford for the job. However on Friday, offensive line coach Josh Henson hinted that “you’ll see a lot of [Ford] in the Cotton Bowl.”
Extra modifications could possibly be on the horizon. Switch offensive deal with Michael Tarquin, who began eight video games for Florida this season, dedicated to USC on Friday afternoon, giving the Trojans a much-needed bookend to Murphy at deal with. 5 extra freshmen offensive linemen will arrive from the incoming recruiting class, together with gifted four-star deal with Elijah Paige.
“There will be new faces coming in in the spring, and we’ll see how they fit in,” Henson mentioned. “But it’s a head start for those out on the field practicing right now.”
USC should not have any scarcity of choices to reorganize up entrance by spring. But it surely gained’t be straightforward to interchange what Vorhees and Neilon have meant to a unit that went by its share of ups and downs.
There was no changing Neilon’s calm amid the chaos, Dedich and Monheim mentioned. Nor may anybody preserve them in verify fairly like Vorhees, whose many superstitions had turn out to be part of the USC line’s identification.
As soon as, Dedich made the error of grabbing the flawed pregame power drink for Vorhees.
“I usually grab him, like, Rainbow Unicorn, but I grabbed him, like, Strawberry Blast, and he lost it on me,” Dedich mentioned with amusing. “He was like, ‘Dude, if we lose this game, it’s because of this.’ ”
Dedich was feeling significantly wistful for these quirks Friday. However as he regarded throughout the locker room at Monheim, he crammed with a way of hope for the longer term.
“That kid over there, Jonah is really stepping up,” he mentioned.
Reminded he’s now technically the elder statesman of USC’s offensive line, Dedich shrugged. He nonetheless can’t fairly see it that means. Not but, at the very least.
“I guess I might be taking on that role, but I don’t know,” he mentioned. “You just want the success of the room to be that great. Sometimes you’re the leader and you don’t really know it. You’re just playing ball.”